It's a familiar story, though told more in depth than we've seen it before, and it puts the show into its historical context—for example, looking at the impact of 9/11 on the show's storylines and longevity. I'll Be There For You is definitely a must-read for Friends fans. But what will make the book appeal to even casual Friends watchers is Miller's nuanced examination of how Friends reflected—and influenced—the culture of the time. She shows a willingness to grapple with the show's shortcomings—and not just 'how did they afford that apartment?' but the show's all-white main cast; the gay jokes; the treatment of the lesbian and trans characters; Fat Monica ... it's hard to believe that any thinkpiece or retrospective will be more nuanced, considered, or better-researched than I'll Be There For You.
Kelsey Miller has written the quintessential fan book ... Miller leads readers through interesting insider scoop and includes various behind-the-scenes interviews spanning the length of Friends. She highlights trends such as 'the Rachel' haircut and high-profile celebrity guest appearances, but doesn’t ignore the bad ... One theme that weaves through the book is the camaraderie among the leading actors ... Miller compares Friends to comfort food. No matter what your mood, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Rachel will always be there for you.
Miller...offers a loving, insightful, and entertaining tour ... Highlights include the cast's determination to work as an ensemble and the importance of filming before a studio audience—with writers retooling jokes on the spot to elicit greater laughs ... the author doesn't shy away from more modern criticisms of the series' homophobia, lack of inclusivity, and jokes that rely on body- or slut-shaming ... Miller successfully revisits a classic television show, demonstrating its larger place in pop culture. A must-read for fans of Must See TV.
The focus is narrow, to the book’s benefit; Miller...is not concerned with the personal lives of Friends’ famous stars, except in cases where real-life events directly affect the show itself (as in the case of Lisa Kudrow’s pregnancy leading to the arc in which Phoebe has twins), and this focus keeps the book slim and readable. In addition to an examination of the show’s development and mind-boggling popularity, this is also an analysis of common critiques of Friends: for its whiteness, homophobia, and fatphobia. Although Miller’s perspective is clearly biased in the show’s favor, she does not ignore its more problematic elements, even if her conclusions are not likely to satisfy Friends’ critics. Hand this to fans of the show and to readers who enjoy pop-culture histories, who will tear through this smart, nostalgic read.
Miller balances both the demand to think about how and why such a saccharine show became as powerfully pervasive as it did in the era of late-capitalist postmodern irony and an expanding TV mediascape that saw the birth of HBO and reality television, and the personal stories that made the show so much a part of our daily lives ... But the greatest contribution of I'll Be There for You is how it approaches and complicates the Friends legacy ... I'll be There for You is a meticulously well-research look at a show that millions of people love came to be, grew to global fame, and left its mark—apparently, not to disappear for a long time.